NW wrote:I guess on the plus side it keeps people from wading out in them for the "perfect picture" and being swept to their death for a bit.
I think your odds of getting to witness that are pretty slim, but they would improve by venturing through Happy Isles and up the Mist Trail to Vernal and Nevada Falls. I bet those still had water flowing, too.
I hope you had more fun on the other side of the Sierra.
September (after Labor Day), often October, and sometimes early November are nice times to hike and scramble in the Sierra without peak summer crowds. Sightseeing with waterfalls in mind in Yosemite Valley is usually best May through early June (the hordes become evident much into June and beyond, but can be mostly avoided on the Panorama trail and other more obscure routes).
I recall your family being interested in desert peaks. If visiting mostly for sightseeing in well known areas, next time you might want to try coming for spring break in March or April. You would have a decent chance of hitting Death Valley before it gets too hot (nice canyon hikes, views, dunes, and some nice desert peaks), seeing the snowcapped high sierra, and taking in Yosemite Valley after the most likely time for big winter storms and as the waterfalls begin to flow more. No guarantees though for long term planning. Spring can be a wildly unpredictable time in all of those places. Also, it would be easy to spend a week in Death Valley without wanting to move on to other places. You might also enjoy Mojave National Preserve. It would be easy to spend a long time in Yosemite, too, but the snowpack can complicate or limit options, hence the crowded summer. Also, doing anything in addition to Yosemite is easier once Tioga Pass opens.